Talking to your kids about strangers

Talking to Your Kids About Strangers

Posted on September 27, 2018 : Posted in Legacy Academy, Parenting Tips

Talking to kids about strangers

As a parent, one of your top priorities is to protect your child. However, in the case of strangers, it can be confusing and overwhelming to teach your child ways to protect themselves. The world is a different place than it was twenty years ago, and the changes affect the way we interact with strangers in public. Here are some tips on talking to your kids about strangers and staying safe.

Be Aware of Your Child’s Age

Before the age of four, children really aren’t prepared to recognize danger. In the case of children ages three and under, it is vital that you teach them to stay by your side and keep a wary eye on them any time you are in public. For children this young, work on teaching them your full name and phone number in case they wander off and need help finding you. If you are going to a crowded place that makes separation more likely, like a Braves game or Six Flags, consider a bracelet or necklace with your information on it.

Start With Body Safety

From the very beginning of life, children should begin to learn body safety and autonomy. This means teaching your child the correct name for all body parts and the difference between acceptable touch and inappropriate touch. Part of this learning process is giving your child authority over their own body, such as explaining or asking before you hold their hand or pick them up. By the time they are two or three years old, you can begin by explaining that no one but a parent, caregiver, or doctor can touch them without their permission.

Teach Children Whom They Can Trust

The idea of “strangers” is very vague to a small child. For this reason, it is better to teach a child who is trustworthy instead. Rehearse with your child that if they are lost or need help, people in uniform (police, security) or with a nametag (employees) are safe to ask. Additionally, you may want to tell your child that if they can’t find a uniform or nametag, to look for another family with children. Other parents can be a great resource in helping your lost child find you.

Talk to Your Child About Tricky People

In reality, abduction or abuse by a stranger is very rare. In fact, sadly most abused children are hurt by someone they know. This information changes the way we talk about strangers, and the old mantra of “stranger danger” is no longer considered a good one to learn. Instead, parents should talk to children about “tricky people.” A tricky person is anyone who tries to convince the child to go somewhere or do something without a parent’s knowledge or permission. For instance, teach your child that no matter how nice someone is, they need permission from you before your child can go anywhere without you. Additionally, teach your child to listen to his or her gut. If something is making them uncomfortable, they should always come and tell you right away.

Practice for the Worst

In the case that a dangerous person does target your child, he or she should have a clear idea of the right response. First, encourage your child to yell as loud as they can if someone grabs them. Often, fear causes a child to stay silent. Talking to your kids about strangers ahead of time will teach them how to react to danger in a way that can help them. You can give your child a script to help them yell. Include the following phrases:

  • You’re not my dad!
  • I don’t know you!

They should yell these loudly and repeatedly. This will keep your child from being mistaken for a child who is just upset at a caregiver. Give your child permission to hit, kick, and scream as much as necessary to get away. Finally, teach them to run as quickly as they can to you. Practice this at home often and in calm moments so that it becomes a reflex in dangerous situations.

In all likelihood, your child will never meet a stranger who is dangerous to them. However, it is imperative that you prepare them should the need arise. Surrounding your children with people who will protect them is a great tool to keep them safe. If you are looking for safe and reliable childcare, visit Legacy Academy Flynn Crossing. We take great pride in the quality of our facilities and our care.